Chemicals in many beauty products are problematic because they can be absorbed into the body and stored in fatty tissues or organs, such as the liver, kidneys, reproductive organs, and brain. Scientists are finding industrial plasticizers, such as phthalates, in urine, preservatives known as parabens in breast tumour tissue, and antibacterials such as triclosan, and fragrance chemicals like the hormone-disrupting musk xylene in human breast milk.
The cosmetics industry is largely self-governing and Health Canada does not require pre-market testing of cosmetics chemicals. So it’s up to consumers to decide what’s safe. I know you’re not a chemist, nor am I, but we do need to take responsibility for what we put on our body.
Remember, your skin is your largest organ. What you slather on it gets absorbed into your blood even faster than if you ate these chemicals. Make sure your products are clean and avoid the top 12 dirtiest chemicals in 80% of personal care products on the market today.
Top 12 Endocrine Disruptors
Hormones affect your beauty. They impact everything from how fast your hair grows to how clear your skin is. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we are exposed to a vast array of chemicals that disrupt our delicate balance of hormones.
1. BPA: Avoid canned foods, sales receipts, and plastics marked with PC and #7.
2. Dioxins: Eat fewer animal products. Practice “Meatless Monday” by eating vegetarian at least once a week.
3. Atrazine: Choose organic produce and get a water filter.
4. Phathalates: Found in plastic food containers, plastic toys, and products with “fragrance” listed on the label.
5. Perchlorate (A.K.A. “Rocket Fuel”): Get a good water filter; eat sea veggies because they are a great source of minerals and very detoxifying.
6. Fire Retardants: There’s not a ton you can do. Be sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter.
7. Lead: Crumbling paint in an old home can be a source of lead; so can your lipstick and water.
8. Arsenic: Again, because water is a source, get a good filter.
9. Mercury: Be cautious of what fish you eat!
10. Perfluorinated Chemicals: Avoid non-stick pans, which release Perfluorooctanoic acid, and avoid water-resistant coating on clothing, carpeting, and furniture.
11. Organophosphate Pesticides: Choose organic produce, especially for the Dirty Dozen. Refer to the Dirty Dozen list (ewg.org) and tape it to your fridge for quick reference.
12. Gylcol Ethers: Found in household cleaning products.
Top 12 Dirtiest Chemicals
1. BHA and BHT: Used in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and BHA may cause cancer.
2. Coal Tar Dyes: p-Phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” plus a five digit number. Look for these in hair dyes and food. The US colour name may also be listed (“FD&C Blue No.1” or “Blue 1”). Potentially carcinogenic and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
3. DEA-Related Ingredients: Used in creamy and foaming products such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react with nitrites to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Also look for related chemicals MEA and TEA.
4. Dibutyl Phthalate: Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant.
5. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives: Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and quaternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
6. Parabens: Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
7. Parfum (AKA fragrance): Can signify any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in cosmetics, even in some marketed as “unscented”. Some can trigger allergies and asthma. Some are linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
8. PEG Compounds: Used in many cosmetic creams. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also look for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients containing “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).
9. Petrolatum: Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in lip balms, lip sticks, and moisturizers. A petroleum product can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
10. Siloxanes: Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth, and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane).
11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers, and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also look for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients containing “eth” in the name.
12. Triclosan: Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers, and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Joy McCarthy is the Founder of Joyous Health, a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, award-winning blogger and two-time best-selling author. A trusted nutrition expert, Joy has been featured in hundreds of publications both online and in print; and is a regular health expert on TV.
Article was published in The Good Life magazine.